Often we are more curious about the “How” of the gifts of the Spirit than about the “What” or the “What for,” one possible reason being that the Bible does not tell us much about the “How.” This article probes into the questions of how the word of wisdom can manifest and in which situations it is needed.
The Bible reports several incidents in which God’s wisdom is applied to a specific situation, e.g. when Stephen, the deacon, was in a verbal dispute with some critics, he spoke led by the Spirit and in wisdom (Acts 6:8-10). He could do this because he was guided by the Holy Spirit. But how exactly did the Holy Spirit guide and inspire him? We do not get any information about this. Maybe the Holy Spirit put the very words directly into his mouth. Maybe it was divine intuition or an inner assurance of the heart that Stephen expressed with his own words.
In many different ways
I reckon the word of wisdom can be manifested in many different ways, since the Holy Spirit speaks in many different ways to people. He can remind us of the Word of God (John 14:26, Psalm 119:105), he can fill our inner being (Acts 4:8), he can guide our thinking and our speaking (Romans 8:14, Galatians 5:18), he can give us visions, dreams, images and impressions (Acts 2:16-18). There are no limits for the Spirit of God in how he reaches us.
We need God’s wisdom
It is important to realize how much we need the wisdom of God – both for church life and for our personal lives. Words of wisdom are needed for edification and advancement of the church. They can save us from splits, pour oil on troubled waters, guide us into right decisions, reveal wrong pathways, etc.. Moreover, God’s wisdom teaches us how to behave adequately, how to live right, how to decide on important matters and how to assess and evaluate certain situations (1 Corinthians 6:5, Ephesians 5:15, Colossians 1:9 and 4:5, James 3:13). We need the stimuli of the Holy Spirit, otherwise we will only live out of our own experience. Yet, we are dependent on learning new things – and sometimes on relearning certain things completely.
Feeding on God’s wisdom
In the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament, which is the core of biblical Wisdom literature, genuine wisdom is closely linked to God. To live in the fear of the Lord is called the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). It leads to discernment, understanding, prudence, ability to decide and openness for correction (e.g. Proverbs 1:5, 3:7, 4:5, 8:12, 10:8). The conduct of those molded by God’s wisdom will be peaceable, gentle, considerate, compassionate and sincere (James 3:17-18). Therefore we should desire God’s wisdom and feed on it. When we consume food that is not good for us it can take some days to recover. We should feed our spirit with God’s wisdom. This will enrich and inspire our lives (Romans 8:11-14). Therefore I would like to encourage everyone to not only reach out for the gift of the word of wisdom, but also for divine wisdom in general – just like the Bible encourages us to do (1 Corinthians 12:31, 14:1; James 1:5).